Liberal versus Conservative Stupidity
Sarah Palin is firmly fixed in the minds of millions of Americans as a mindless bimbo. George Bush is supposed to be a helpless idiot. Dick Cheney is Darth Vader; John McCain a dangerous hyperconservative. Republican voters are supposed to be either mouthbreathing, probably racist rednecks or wealthy plutocrats.
These images are so prevalent mostly because of pop culture—Sarah Palin’s “bimbo” status was confirmed by Tina Fey’s Saturday Night Live impressions, Jon Stewart and Bill Maher push the “Bush is an idiot” meme, and Hollywood almost invariably portrays conservatives unfavorably, while portraying liberals as intelligent and good.
Many, perhaps most, of our opinionmakers see the world the way Hollywood, SNL, et al. see it—conservatives are unsophisticated philistines, while liberals are cultured, with-it bright lights. And this meme spreads—around the globe, and throughout much of America, liberals are considered the good, smart guys, while conservatives are greedy, dumb yokels. It is difficult for many to even imagine that it could be the other way around.
Actually, the liberal view of conservatives is correct, or largely correct. Palin may not be a “bimbo”, but she certainly wasn’t ready (or didn’t appear ready, and appearances were all we had to go on) for the vice presidency. Bush might not be an idiot; Cheney might not be an evil overlord—but they seem to do their best to perpetuate those impressions. And many, many Republicans are mouthbreathing philistines, who are suspicious of learning, join stupid causes, and have little interest in anything that seems to challenge their beliefs.
So liberals are right about conservatives, or at least a fair proportion of them. But they overlook another point—liberals are, as a group, every bit as closed-minded, gullible, and in their own way, provincial as conservatives are.
Most conservatives don’t believe in evolution. Stupid. But most (or at least very many) liberals are firmly convinced that socialism (real socialism, not the watered down kind they have in Europe) has something to teach us; many look at Fidel Castro’s Cuba as something of a noble experiment. Many even have mixed feelings about the Soviet Union—it is difficult to find a liberal who is willing to admit that it was an evil, expansionist empire that threatened Western civilization.
Or to take another example: white guilt. In spite of the fact that institutionalized racism has been dead for nearly half a century, and that millions of welfare dollars have been spent on improving black communities (money, by the way, that I would not grudge, except that it has been mostly ineffective), and that any black who feels discriminated against can sue, virtually all liberals carry a crushing burden of guilt for crimes that they did not commit, and that ended a long time ago. In fact, I’ve had a professor explain that she didn’t identify as white because of white oppression of African-Americans. (Which is, when you think about it, a bit hard on whites with ancestry different from Angelo-Saxon. Polish-Americans, for example, weren’t into racism much).
Between these two ideas (and many others), I think that it is fair to say that liberals display critical thinking skills as poor as those found in any conservative. The Left is just as stupid as the Right—just in a different way.
Liberals pride themselves on their sophistication compared to conservatives. They shouldn’t. Jon Stewart’s job isn’t any different that Rush Limbaugh’s, and his methods aren’t any more cultured. (In fact, I think it safe to say that his act is a bit more juvenile than that found on conservative talk radio). Stewart is considered a Swiftian satirist because he is on the Left; were he a conservative, he would be a racist rabblerouser. Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore and Rachel Maddow aren’t any more intelligent or balanced than their conservative counterparts—liberals only think so because they happen to be liberal. (Of course, the opposite phenomenon can be seen in conservatives; for them, Rush is genius, Olbermann an idiot).
If conservatives are closed-minded idiots, liberals are too—only in a different way. Both sides are rife with stupid theories, appalling gullibility, and absolute closed-mindedness. It simply takes different forms in the competing ideologies.